Mrs Carol Anne Indge
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Service and Proceeding in Absence
1. The Panel noted that the Notice of Hearing sets out the time, place and location of the hearing and it was sent to the correct address however, it is dated 21 March 2018. The notice therefore does not comply with the requirement to give a Registrant 28 days notice of a hearing. The Panel had sight of a File Note (21/3/2018) providing details of a conversation between a member of HCPC staff and the Registrant. That note confirms that the Registrant agreed to waive the time for notice and that she “wants it all to be over”. The Panel was satisfied that the Registrant was aware that she did not have to waive her right to 28 days notice. The Panel concluded that the Registrant had waived her right to 28 days notice of the hearing taking place.
2. The Registrant did not attend and was not represented at this hearing. The Panel noted that she had not attended the final hearing in February 2017 or the subsequent review hearing in October 2017. The Panel went on to consider whether to proceed in the Registrant’s absence.
3. On behalf of the HCPC, Ms Wills applied for the hearing to proceed in the absence of the Registrant on the basis that the Registrant had been notified of the date, time and location of the hearing at her registered address. Ms Wills stated that the Registrant had waived the notice period of 28 days. Ms Wills submitted that it was in the public interest for the hearing to proceed expeditiously.
4. Having considered the revised HCPTS’ Practice Note on proceeding in absence and the advice of the Legal Assessor on the case of GMC v Adeogba  EWCA Civ 162 (“the fair, economical, expeditious and efficient disposal of allegations against medical practitioners is of real importance”), the Panel was satisfied that the Registrant is aware of this hearing. The Registrant had not applied for an adjournment of today’s hearing and she had not attend the two previous hearings in this matter. The Panel also took into account an email from the Registrant to the HCPC dated 4/12/2017, where she requested to be removed from the register as she no longer wished to practise. It is also clear from her communications that she is aware of the purpose of this hearing today and that she has voluntarily absented herself. The Panel noted the overriding public interest in dealing with matters in a timely manner. In balancing the Registrant’s interest and the public interest, the Panel decided that the matter should be heard in the absence of the Registrant.
5. The Registrant is a registered Social Worker. On 20 – 22 February 2017, a panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee considered a fitness to practise allegation against the Registrant at a final hearing. It was alleged that the Registrant’s fitness to practise was impaired by reason of her failing to produce court statements and care plans within the required timescales and failing to conduct or record visits with service users within the required timescales. The panel found all the allegations proved and it had concluded that service users were put at risk of harm. That panel imposed a Suspension Order for a period of eight months.
6. On 21 September 2017, the Registrant was notified of the substantive review hearing which was scheduled to take place on 23 October 2017. The Registrant responded to the notice of hearing on 25 September 2017 and advised that she was unable to attend the hearing. She also stated that she regretted that she had been unable to manage her workload and did not intend to practise as a Social Worker in the future.
7. On 23 October 2017, the Suspension Order was reviewed by a panel of the Conduct and Competence Committee pursuant to article 30 of the Health and Social Work Professions Order 2001. That panel decided to extend the Suspension Order for a period of six months. This was in order to provide the necessary public protection and satisfy the wider public interest whilst the HCPC considered whether to propose a Voluntary Removal Agreement to the Registrant.
8. On 4 December 2017, the Registrant confirmed via email to the HCPC, that she would like to enter into a Voluntary Removal Agreement.
9. Ms Wills submitted that the agreement was an appropriate and proportionate way to deal with this matter. The public would be protected and the wider public interest would be met as the Registrant cannot return to practice for a minimum period of 5 years.
10. The Panel had regard to the Legal Advice. It noted that it did not have to accept the agreement and it had a duty to consider issues such as protection of service users, maintenance of public confidence in the profession and declaring and upholding proper standards of conduct and behaviour.
11. The Panel had regard to the HCPC Practice Note on disposal of cases by consent. The Practice Note states that a panel should not agree to resolve a case in this way unless it is satisfied of two things: firstly, that the appropriate level of public protection is being secured and, secondly, that doing so would not be detrimental to the wider public interest.
12. The Panel also had regard to the case of Cohen v GMC where the High Court stated that there are “critically important public policy issues” which must be taken into account by panels in fitness to practise proceedings, including the ‘public’ component of impairment. This ‘public’ component requires consideration of the need to protect service users, declare and uphold proper standards of behaviour and maintain public confidence in the profession.
13. The Panel took into account that the allegations were found proved by a Conduct and Competence Panel and a sanction of a Suspension Order imposed for a period of 8 months. That decision would have been published. A reviewing panel further suspended the Registrant’s registration for 6 months.
14. This Panel concluded that Voluntary Removal from the Register would be the appropriate and proportionate way forward in this case. Voluntary Removal from the Register would ensure that the public are protected. The allegations had been found proved by a panel and the Registrant was suspended from practise. The wider public interest considerations have been taken into account as standards have been upheld by a public regulatory process.
15. The Panel has read the consent agreement signed by both parties and it is of the view that the agreement is the appropriate and proportionate manner in which to deal with this case and protects service users and the wider public interest. The Registrant has expressed a desire not to practise as a social worker again and this is reflected in the agreement.
16. In conclusion the Panel accepts the Voluntary Removal Agreement as set out by the parties and it agrees to the Consent Order as set out.
No notes available
History of Hearings for Mrs Carol Anne Indge
|Date||Panel||Hearing type||Outcomes / Status|
|10/04/2018||Conduct and Competence Committee||Final Hearing||Voluntary Removal agreed|